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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER VO3ST   HXJMBOLDT.                   12*7
craters, and an agitation of the earth's surface. Be-
fore the advent of man into terrestrial nature, a tro-
pical animal and vegetahle world flourished every-
where on the volcanically heated earth ; now,, on the
cooled planet, the petrified surface only receives
warmth from the sun, the tropical luxuriance died out
towards the north, and only flourishes where the sun
can exercise its perpendicular influence over the
In those remote ages of the boiling centre of our
earth ball, the hot fluid  and the gases it generated
often and on  many points  hurst  through the firm
crust  with tremendous force,,  made  clefts  and  de-
pressions in it into which the molten masses of metal,
basalt, and other matter flowed, which were petrified,
and  now  lie in  the  thus-formed  mountain  ridges.
Thus arose the Cordilleras of the Andes, the Hima-
laya mountains, and thus was petrified the waving
surface of the broken soil into those hills and valleys
which transform our plains into picturesque landscapes,
From these causes Humboldt explained the peculiari-
ties  of the Asiatic soiL    The volcanic power which
raised mountains and continents, and swelled up the
earth-crust bubbling like a gigantic vault, had the
consequence that these hollow vaults sank down in
the  course of ages, and thus Humboldt established
that the depression of the surface of the old world,
where the level of the Caspian sea, like that of the sea
of Ural, lies 32 to 50 toises below the level of the ocean,
and where the depression of the firm soil extends as
far as Orenburg, Saratow, and south-east probably as
far as the so-called central plain, is nothing but a
crater-land like that *of the moon, where   the large
points, above 100 miles broad, called Hipparchy Archi-
medes,   and  Ptolemy, form a basin formation such
as exist also nearer home, for instance, in Bohemia,
Before Humboldtfs journey into the interior of
Asia, there existed many erroneous notions of the
geography, the connexion of the mountain chains,
and the productions of the soil of those districts, but an